Design showcase: an 'out of this world' launch scheme for Adidas

Sports brand Adidas launched its UltraBoost 20 range – a new high technology product developed in conjunction with the International Space Station (ISS) – with an in-store activation designed to give consumers an element of ongoing education about product development, as well as an immersive retail experience.

Created by UK creative agency IS Instore, the global activation campaign was applied in a diverse range of retail locations, from flagship stores to third-party retailers and franchises, around the world.

Adidas was seeking to use physical spaces to create excitement and 'lift off' around the launch, with a sensory experience that engaged the imagination of both runners and 'sneaker lovers,' who appreciate the brand from a fashion perspective. The creative approach emphasised the lack of gravity at the ISS, and the genuine 'out of this world' element of the Ultraboost 20's research and development process.

“Physical retail is a place where these brands can step out from behind their digital masks and really cultivate connections with their consumers that will stay with them long after they leave the store,” said IS Instore client engagement lead Bethan Youd.

“With the launch of UltraBoost 20 and the ISS Partnership we had a special opportunity to create something mind-blowingly creative that told this story to the world for one month only – it’s the launch of a new era both for Adidas’ product innovation and for the entire running industry as a whole.”

The agency created a campaign that could be scaled up or down for use in locations from street level activations – such as anti-gravity inspired window concepts and immersive activation spaces – to interactive in-store touch points. Digital elements were included to educate consumers on the ISS partnership, design innovations in the range and product benefits.

Selfie booths, product trial areas, anti-gravity merchandising and gifts with purchase were pulled together in a spaceship-inspired environment crafted from weathered steel, with moonlike textures and space-age tools designed to transport consumers into an experience that felt unlike anything on planet Earth.

Adidas announced its partnership with the ISS last year. Running over several years, the project is being managed by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS). The organisation is seeking to explore the boundaries of product innovation, human performance and sustatinability. With the involvement of Adidas, CASIS plans to future design and engineering for athletes, both on and off Earth.

The project will see Adidas become the first footwear brand to test its products in space, while Adidas footballs have been used to test flight characteristics.

“Working with the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory and CASIS – one of the most advanced facilities in the world – will help Adidas set new standards in performance innovation,” said Adidas vice president of brand strategy Jack Carnes. “This partnership not only allows us to co-create improvements to sport performance but to explore processes and design that could be applicable to Adidas' dedicated efforts in sustainability as well.”